I was recently contacted via telephone by a man with a Middle Eastern accent who told me he was with the IRS. He claimed I owed income taxes and stated that if I did not send him money he would send IRS Agents to have me arrested. When I asked how much I owed he said, “$3,500 and I need a payment immediately.” I told him I did not owe any money to the government and informed him that I am a retired IRS Special Agent. He continued to say that if I did not send him money he would have me arrested. I told him, “Send the agents to my home and we will talk.” He asked for my residence address, and I replied that if he is with the IRS he has my address in his records. He hung up on me. I called him back and a different person answered. He asked my name and hung up immediately after I told him. I know from experience that these people are organized with a Customer Relational Management (CRM) system and now that they have my name and phone number in their database they will not accept any more calls from me.
Why did they call on my business phone and how did they know my name? I cannot explain that, but they did not know my address or that my former employer was IRS Criminal Investigation.
On August 28, 2014, the Internal Revenue Service issued a consumer alert providing taxpayers with additional tips to protect themselves from telephone scam artists calling and pretending to be with the IRS. The alert follows:
These imposters call and may demand money or may say you have a refund due and try to trick you into sharing private information in order to collect your refund. These con artists can sound convincing when they call, especially if the taxpayer is elderly. They may know a lot about the taxpayer and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. They use fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. If you don’t answer your phone initially, they often leave an “urgent” callback request with a number.
These telephone scams are seen in every part of the country, and the IRS urges people not to be deceived by these threatening phone calls. IRS has a formal process in place for contacting people with tax issues, and it is not this. The IRS respects taxpayer rights, and these angry, shake-down calls are not how the IRS does business.
Any one of the below five things are a tell-tale sign of a scam, because the IRS will never:
- Call you about taxes you owe without first mailing you an official notice with reference information
- Demand that you pay taxes without giving you the opportunity to question or appeal the amount they claim you owe
- Require you to use a specific payment method for your taxes, such as a prepaid debit card
- Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the phone
- Threaten to bring in local police or other law-enforcement groups to have you arrested for not paying
If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS and asking for money do not panic and do not reach for your checkbook or credit / debit card. Follow these steps instead:
- Call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 if you know you owe taxes or think you might owe. The IRS workers can help you resolve any payment issues.
- If you know you don’t owe taxes, or have no reason to believe that you do, report the incident to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 1-800-366-4484 or at www.tigta.gov.
- You can also file a complaint using the www.ftccomplaintassistant.gov site and choose “Other” and then “Imposter Scams.” If the complaint involves someone impersonating the IRS, include the words “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.
Keep in mind that the IRS does not use unsolicited e-mail, text messages or any social media to discuss personal tax issues. For more information on reporting tax scams, go to www.irs.gov and type “scam” in the search box.
Additional information about tax scams is available on IRS social media sites, including YouTube and Tumblr where you can search “scam” to find scam-related posts.
Don’t fall victim to con artists who use fear of IRS to intimidate you or your loved ones. To learn more contact Edmond J. Martin, Chief Investigator at Sage Investigations, LLC, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 512-659-3179.